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Study: Concussion Test Could Be Possible With Simple Blood Analysis

by John Gomez | Last Updated: January 5, 2017
Concussion Test

For decades, the only ‘concussion test’ administered on people who had suffered a blow to the head involved asking them to describe what if any symptoms they were experiencing.  Even as the world of medical science advanced at a remarkable rate, almost any concussion test one could find was relatively rudimentary in nature.  This became more of a perceived problem as we learned more about the potential damage that could be done by what seemed like even a mild concussion.  It seems possible that we are making some progress in this regard thanks to some Canadian researchers.  These researchers recently published a study that revealed that it may be possible to diagnose a concussion with a relatively simple blood test.  If that proves to be the case, it could create an environment where fewer concussion diagnoses are missed.

About the Concussion Test Study

Researchers from Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute performed the study.  They chose 29 male hockey players as subjects.  The hockey players donated vials of blood within 72 hours of suffering a sudden blow to the head.  The researchers analyzed 174 different chemicals in the brain that tend to change in response to any type of brain trauma.  At that point, the doctors applied the results of those measurements to an equation in order to determine whether or not a particular subject had suffered a concussion.

The results were extremely encouraging.  17 of the 29 subjects had suffered concussions and 12 of the hockey players had not.  Using the tests and the analysis described above, the researchers were able to detect the presence of a concussion at an accuracy rate of 90 percent.  The doctors concluded that based on these results, analyzing blood could someday soon prove to be an effective method in administering a concussion test.  Those interested in reading the abstract of the study can find it at this link.

Current Concussion Test Protocol

If we are able to perform an accurate concussion test using the relatively simple method described in the study, this could radically change how we test for them.  As of now, every concussion test tends to start with asking the person who has taken a blow to the head some basic questions.  According to information available from the Mayo Clinic, additional steps for a concussion test often include:

  • Neurological Examination
    • Vision
    • Hearing
    • Strength and sensation
    • Balance
    • Coordination
    • Reflexes
  • Cognitive Testing
    • Concentration
    • Memory
    • Recall Ability
  • Imaging Tests
    • MRIs
    • CT scans
  • Overnight Observation

It’s clear that a concussion test as currently constituted can be extremely time-consuming and involved.  Being able to determine the presence of a concussion quickly is not only a better immediate outcome for the patient, but it can lead to a faster decision to begin the healing process.

Concussion Statistics

The concussion rate in the United States alone is staggering.  The following statistics relate to concussions in the United States:

  • Between 1.6 and 3.8 million people in the United States suffer concussions every year.
  • The CDC has declared that concussions have reached an epidemic level in the United States.
  • High school athletes alone suffer an estimated 300,000 concussions per year.
  • Approximately 67,000 high school football players are diagnosed with concussions every year.
  • A high school athlete’s chance of suffering a subsequent concussion after an initial injury increase by a factor of 3 to 6.

Obviously, concussions are a serious public health problem in the United States.  One of the reasons that the concussion rate has risen in recent years is positive.  People are more aware of the possibility of this type of injury and more likely to specifically check to see if someone has suffered a concussion.

Causes of Concussions

As we learn more about concussions, we are also learning more about what causes them.  According to several different sources, the leading causes of concussions include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Assaults
  • Sports collisions
  • Falls
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Playground injuries

These causes have remained relatively constant in recent years.  What’s perhaps most troubling is that many of these concussion causes are related to the negligent, reckless or even intentional actions of others.

Recovery From a Concussion

A concussion is a form of brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control, recovery from a brain injury could take days, weeks, or months or the impairment could be lifelong. Unfortunately, because every concussion/brain injury is different any combination of symptoms can, and may occur and persist.

The general approach to concussion recovery involves:

  • Rest
  • Avoiding physically demanding activities
  • Avoid any activities with physical contact
  • Avoiding alcohol

Doctors can and often do take additional steps.  However, much will depend on the specifics of the patient and the injury.  People who suffer a concussion need to work closely with their primary care physicians and follow their recommendations carefully in order to minimize the chance that long-term concussion-related symptoms will develop.

How Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers Can Help

As mentioned above, many people suffer concussions because of the faulty actions of others.  People who face this difficult situation also face an uncertain recovery time and uncertain amounts of loss.  If this includes you or someone you love, contact the traumatic brain injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

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